With an estimated 34,800 of children and young people under 25 with deafness in the UK, it is not just something that hits the elderly. Campaigns such as the Loud Music Campaign have been trying to get young people more aware of the damage they may be inadvertently causing to their ears through loud music and concerts. However many people, both young and old, know little about the causes of hearing loss or how to reduce their chances of becoming deaf.
What causes deafness?
The biggest cause of deafness is simply growing older. Blindness and ageusia, or losing taste can also happen as you grow older. For hearing loss, the sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear become damaged or die. It happens at a different rate for everyone, but speech may become tricky to detect from general background noises making interaction harder.
Loud noises can also cause deafness and prolonged exposure can damage a delicate part of the inner ear. It is sometimes classed as acoustic trauma and this is the damage that can be done during concerts or even from your own MP3 player.
Conductive hearing loss happens when sounds are unable to reach the eardrum because of a blockage, or a perforated drum.
Deafness through sensorineural hearing loss happens if the hair cells within the inner ear are damaged or the auditory nerve is damaged, stopping sound being transmitted to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss has many causes which include age related causes, infections, genetic disposition to deafness, loud noises and Meniere’s disease, a disease which can cause vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss. But you can have suffer tinnitus without having Meniere’s disease.
It is advised to go to the doctor if you suffer sudden deafness for no apparent reason.
What can you do to look after your ears?
If you work with loud machinery make sure you wear suitable ear protection with either ear plugs or ear defenders.
Going to a loud concert can be fun, but you may hear a ringing in your ears for hours after and it may be the first step to loosing your hearing permanently. Try taking ear plugs, which will make the music less loud and more bearable. Often there is a way to set MP3 players to a lower maximum volume too so that they don’t blast your ears unexpectedly.